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Risk in Context

Age-Diverse Workforce Calls for Targeted Health Management Approaches

Posted by Rohan Muralee 24 September 2019

How do our health concerns change through each decade of our lives? We reached out to our MMB colleagues to find out.

In September, Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) focused on the theme of Healthy Aging and launched several ‘age-themed’ internal initiatives.

We did a campaign where we reached out to colleagues in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s to hear their stories and health concerns. As expected, there was a great variety of health concerns among the different age groups, which reinforced my belief in the need for targeted health management approaches. Summarizing MMB’s key findings should help illustrate this:

We found many in their 20s leading active lives but noticing the slowing down of their bodies. Even for those in the prime years of physicality, it takes great discipline to maintain an active lifestyle, and falling ill can break any momentum very quickly. We recommended preventative measures such as flu and HPV vaccinations to reduce the impact of illness from disrupting their exercise routines.

Colleagues in their 30s become more aware of bodily changes, especially around weight control. They may be tempted to diversify their diets, but we advised them to stick with foods that promoted good gut health. We also suggested that they start going for regular health screenings.

Those in their 40s referenced lowered energy levels throughout the day, hence we reinforced the importance of proper rest. One great way to get restorative sleep is to reduce caffeine intake and replace bouts of restlessness with simple exercises, such as opting to walk during phone calls. Taking regular breaks from a sedentary lifestyle can have significant impact.

For many of our colleagues in their 50s, it was common for them to have witnessed more friends and family members battling cancer. At the same time, they noticed a tendency for their co-workers to reduce or opt-out of critical illness coverage to convert into cash, who subsequently faced a shortfall in coverage when faced with ill-health. This might affect them personally, or their families. This heightened awareness made them scrutinize how and what they were covered for by their employers, and reinforced the need for a robust, comprehensive health insurance plan.

Some of our colleagues in their 60s have begun gearing down their pace of life and adopting a more pragmatic approach, focusing on quality over quantity. Those who exercised or restarted their fitness journeys noticed slower recovery times and quicker deterioration, which urged them to live and eat with a measure of restraint. We recommended increased resistance exercises to prevent muscle deterioration, whilst maintaining healthy levels of daily protein intake.

We are certainly not the only company with this wide range of health concerns among an age-diverse workforce — large companies now have five generations in the workplace. Many of our clients often struggle to develop and maintain a program that can keep their employees healthy and productive while providing flexible options that resonate with employees of all ages and demands

Mercer Marsh Benefits can help employers tailor optimal health and benefit wellbeing programs that are relevant to their employees. The varied health concerns of employees pose a great challenge to designing and managing effective benefits programs but it is possible, with the right expertise, to bring the best out of an age-diverse workforce.

This simple adage remains true: healthy employees are happy employees, and happy employees make productive employees. It is a win-win situation for all parties concerned.

Rohan  Muralee